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5 Critical Actions That Really Can Put Us on a Sustainable Path

Annie Leonard's new short film, "The Story of Change," shows why we have to do more than just vote with our dollars.

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2. Texas Keystone Convergence, North Texas (July 27-29)

Rising Tide North Texas and Tar Sands Blockade will join forces July 27-29 in North Texas to host a three-day training session for anyone interested in participating in a nonviolent direct action against the Gulf Coast portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is critical to the expansion of Alberta tar sands and their delivery to Gulf refineries. Those who attend will brainstorm and organize tactics to sustain a blockade to prevent TransCanada from building a pipeline.

Organizers said: “We’ll risk arrest in a sustained nonviolent direct action … The fact is, other tactics — like lobbying, petitioning, and packing public hearings — have failed to halt the pipeline. State authorities have bent to every TransCanada desire, and they show no signs of stopping now.”

In March, President Obama issued an executive order accelerating the approval process for the southern arm of the Keystone XL pipeline. Permits for the pipeline’s construction are being automatically granted without any environmental reviews or opportunity for public intervention.

Tar sands is a mixture of heavy crude oil, sand, clay and bitumen that produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional oil. Tar sands  pollutes water, air and land and has been proven to cause various diseases. Tar sands pipelines have also been known to spill, like the massive Enbridge spill two years ago that sent 877,000 of crude oil into a Michigan river.

3. Stop the Frack Attack, Washington DC (July 28)

Members of environmental organizations and other supporters will converge on the nation’s capitol July 28 to call for a halt to the recent rush to frack our land. The oil and gas industry has continuously promoted lies about gas drilling in order to exploit new areas. During the Stop the Frack Attack rally, protesters will demand an end to fracking and a push to put the environment and communities over profit by first removing special exemptions and subsidies for oil and gas corporations. Organizers of the gathering said, “We all want to Stop The Frack Attack – the out-of-control rush to drill that is putting oil and gas industry profits over our health, our families, our property, our communities, and our futures.”

Speakers will include Bill McKibben of 350.org, Allison Chin of the Sierra Club, and Josh Fox, maker of the film Gasland.

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of using a high-pressure mixture of water and chemicals to break up shale rock to extract gas. The process harms the environment by contaminating water and polluting air. Fracking has also been linked to various health problems including cancer and kidney, liver and neurological damage.

4. Spare Change for Big Oil, Massachusetts (Aug. 4)

Activists across Massachusetts will hold Spare Change for Big Oil! donation drives on Aug. 4, to raise awareness about and protest Big Oil subsidies. Organized by the Massachusetts branch of  350.org, protesters will tell passersby: “The Big Five oil companies only made $137 billion in profits last year. In order for companies like them to continue cutting jobs and poisoning our air and water, they need our help! The $11 billion we already give them annually is not enough. Will you help these companies back on their feet so they can keep causing catastrophic climate change?”

Hundreds of activists will hold out coffee cans, set up lemonade stands or hold bake sales while handing out flyers that explain how our taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize oil corporations. The flyers also clarify that subsidizing Big Oil actually leads to higher gas prices and fewer jobs.